Love is unpredictable and it can cause us to act irrational. If you happen to be falling in love with one of your co-workers and start dating, this could have serious repercussions on your professional life.
If you want to have your office romance to have a happy-ever-after ending, you need to seriously consider these 5 basic points first.
Know the company policy
Most companies have policies about dating co-workers. Usually these rules forbid employees to date their boss, but the regulations on office romances differ from company to company. Reasons for prohibiting colleagues to date are a) in order for the work performance and individual promotions to not be disturbed and b) to maintain a good office vibe.
When crossing those boundaries, there could be serious consequences. No one wants to choose between their livelihood and their lover, so you better think twice before you decide to start dating a co-worker. Make sure you are fully aware of the consequences your actions may entail, explore your options, and if all else fails; try talking to someone in HR to see what your options are, realistically.
Know what you want from the relationship
Since dating co-workers is often a risky affair, clearly state to yourself what you want out of a relationship, both in general and with this specific person. Get to know each other as friends before you decide if this person is worth the risk. A solid relationship needs a solid foundation and people often act different in a professional environments compared to informal settings. If you both know what you want and know each other on a more personal level, it will be more comfortable to enter into a delicate situation like this.
So sleep on it before you decide (pun not intended). Do not rush things, and make sure that your co-worker is single. An office romance is already complicated enough without the emotional and moral problems an affair would bring with it.
Be prepared to maintain boundaries
If office romances are off limits in your company, you need to keep yours low-key. Even when unaware, co-workers will pick up on a change in habits and gossip can spread quickly. Be very careful who you share your secret with and be prepared to maintain serious boundaries at work so your relationship can be kept secret.
Secondly, even when your company approves the dating of co-workers, you still need to maintain some boundaries. Don’t talk about household affairs at work, and vice versa. Try to separate your personal life from your work life as much as possible and make clear agreements on this beforehand. Once public, there will be gossiping about your relationship, so be discrete and keep it low-key to not put extra pressure on each other.
Thirdly, you need to be prepared to always be around your significant other. This can be a serious strain on the relationship so make sure you have independent friendships and hobbies outside of work to not be together 24/7.
Keep your work priorities straight
Make sure you don’t end up losing your job because of who you date. Even worse, the relationship might not last either. And you don’t want to be both an emotional and a financial wreck.
So keep your head in the right place at work. You will have to rely on your own merit for personal growth, so make sure your relation doesn’t have a priority over work or important assignments. Concentrating on your job during office hours will make sure you’ll keep your employer and your colleagues happy, which will result in less pressure on you and your significant other.
Get real about the aftermath
Even when you started dating with the intention of having a happily-ever-after love story, things don’t always end up the way they’re supposed to be. Before officially starting to date a colleague, be prepared for the break-up too.
If there is a break-up you don’t want to become messy, it’s this one. You don’t want your work environment to be awkward and uncomfortable (for both you and your co-workers) and you definitely don’t want all the details of your private life spilled at work.
Agree to be as professional as can be, avoid each other when possible but work together when needed. If you want to argue, do it outside office hours, but don’t bring the break-up into the office. That’s why, if things go south, you are way better off dating someone outside of the office, or at least from a completely different department.